The winter weather put a freeze on the housing market housing during January as house buyers and sellers put their moving plans on hold.

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (Rics) recorded its first drop in inquiries from potential buyers for 14 months during January, while the number of new sellers fell for the first time in seven months.

Overall, 20% more surveyors reported a drop in new house hunters than those who saw a rise, down from 18% more who reported a rise in inquiries in December.

The bad weather had had a dampening effect on the level of new sales agreed. The number fell to an average of 18 for chartered surveyor estate agents during the three months to the end of Jenuary.

But house prices continued to rise with 32% more surveyors reporting price increases in January than those who saw falls, up from 30% more in December.

Surveyors remain confident that the dip in activity is temporary, with the proportion who expect prices to continue rising doubling during the month from a balance of 12% to 24%.

There was an even bigger increase in the number of surveyors expecting sales to rise during the coming three months, rising from 7% in December to 24% in January.

The housing market recovery continues to be strongest in London, the south-east and the south-west.

In Wales, Yorkshire and Humberside and the north, more surveyors are still reporting price falls than rises.

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